Possessing only length or width, but not both. An ideal, geometric line, one that is infinitely long but has zero width, is a one-dimensional object.

In a literary context, a one-dimensional character is one possessing ambitions but no clear motives for them, e.g., a homicidal villain who wants to take over the world but doesn't seem to know what he's going to do with it afterwards. A derisive term, and one to be avoided by aspiring writers.

[Bridge, USS Enterprise]
Admiral James Tiberius Kirk: He’s followed me this far, he’ll be back. But from where?

Captain Spock: He is intelligent, but not experienced. His pattern indicates two dimensional thinking.

Kirk: Helm, Z minus 10,000 metres; stand by photon torpedoes.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, 1982
For someone used to moving in a two dimensional world, like the surface of a planet, tactics dealing with operating in three dimensions, like flight, do not come naturally. Spock's observation applies to more than just military strategy, but political thinking and other problem-solving strategies as well.

Political campaigning often involves simplifying issues into one-dimensional thinking (for example, you're either "giving up" control to a government bureaucracy or "freeing" it up to the private sector) to make them easier to talk about in the mass media. The unfortunate side-effect of this is that "pundits" in the media then also respond with one-dimensional reactions to the issues, missing entire ranges of possible responses to a nation's problems.

A non-political example is the south-north dichotomy. Should we move south or north? Sounds simple enough right? However, even if we remain in one dimension, there are other choices:
1. None of the above - don't move in either direction.
2. All of the above - some of us go south, some go north. We go north sometimes, we go south sometimes.
3. Fill the spectrum - go in one direction or the other at varying speeds and varying accelerations. Spend more of our time in one direction, and less of our time in the other.

Finally, we can look in other dimensions when dealing with such questions, some more obvious than others. The most obvious being the east-west dimensions. Less obvious ones being up or down in elevation, backwards or forwards in time.

Movement can be in such a way that very little change is detected when projected in the original axis, but great change is happening nonetheless - for example, accelerating to light-speed east in an upward direction.

It is interesting to note that given these dimensions, we are assuming that "moving south" actually means moving south when the time frame is moving forwards. "Moving north" can be also considered "moving south" as long as we are moving in the opposite direction with respect to time.

And of course, even beyond the dimensions of space-time, we can carry out many more other actions "outside the box" like not going anywhere, but building a city, pondering the nature of existence, having lunch or some hanky-panky, or engaging in that highest of art-forms - noding for numbers. (Hey! Oww, I was kidding! That hurt...)

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.